April 21, 2020  |  

Insect genomes: progress and challenges.

In the wake of constant improvements in sequencing technologies, numerous insect genomes have been sequenced. Currently, 1219 insect genome-sequencing projects have been registered with the National Center for Biotechnology Information, including 401 that have genome assemblies and 155 with an official gene set of annotated protein-coding genes. Comparative genomics analysis showed that the expansion or contraction of gene families was associated with well-studied physiological traits such as immune system, metabolic detoxification, parasitism and polyphagy in insects. Here, we summarize the progress of insect genome sequencing, with an emphasis on how this impacts research on pest control. We begin with a brief introduction to the basic concepts of genome assembly, annotation and metrics for evaluating the quality of draft assemblies. We then provide an overview of genome information for numerous insect species, highlighting examples from prominent model organisms, agricultural pests and disease vectors. We also introduce the major insect genome databases. The increasing availability of insect genomic resources is beneficial for developing alternative pest control methods. However, many opportunities remain for developing data-mining tools that make maximal use of the available insect genome resources. Although rapid progress has been achieved, many challenges remain in the field of insect genomics. © 2019 The Royal Entomological Society.


April 21, 2020  |  

A high-quality genome assembly from a single, field-collected spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) using the PacBio Sequel II system

Background A high-quality reference genome is an essential tool for applied and basic research on arthropods. Long-read sequencing technologies may be used to generate more complete and contiguous genome assemblies than alternate technologies; however, long-read methods have historically had greater input DNA requirements and higher costs than next-generation sequencing, which are barriers to their use on many samples. Here, we present a 2.3 Gb de novo genome assembly of a field-collected adult female spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) using a single Pacific Biosciences SMRT Cell. The spotted lanternfly is an invasive species recently discovered in the northeastern United States that threatens to damage economically important crop plants in the region. Results The DNA from 1 individual was used to make 1 standard, size-selected library with an average DNA fragment size of ~20 kb. The library was run on 1 Sequel II SMRT Cell 8M, generating a total of 132 Gb of long-read sequences, of which 82 Gb were from unique library molecules, representing ~36× coverage of the genome. The assembly had high contiguity (contig N50 length = 1.5 Mb), completeness, and sequence level accuracy as estimated by conserved gene set analysis (96.8% of conserved genes both complete and without frame shift errors). Furthermore, it was possible to segregate more than half of the diploid genome into the 2 separate haplotypes. The assembly also recovered 2 microbial symbiont genomes known to be associated with L. delicatula, each microbial genome being assembled into a single contig. Conclusions We demonstrate that field-collected arthropods can be used for the rapid generation of high-quality genome assemblies, an attractive approach for projects on emerging invasive species, disease vectors, or conservation efforts of endangered species.


April 21, 2020  |  

A chromosome-level draft genome of the grain aphid Sitobion miscanthi.

Sitobion miscanthi is an ideal model for studying host plant specificity, parthenogenesis-based phenotypic plasticity, and interactions between insects and other species of various trophic levels, such as viruses, bacteria, plants, and natural enemies. However, the genome information for this species has not yet to be sequenced and published. Here, we analyzed the entire genome of a parthenogenetic female aphid colony using Pacific Biosciences long-read sequencing and Hi-C data to generate chromosome-length scaffolds and a highly contiguous genome assembly.The final draft genome assembly from 33.88 Gb of raw data was ~397.90 Mb in size, with a 2.05 Mb contig N50. Nine chromosomes were further assembled based on Hi-C data to a 377.19 Mb final size with a 36.26 Mb scaffold N50. The identified repeat sequences accounted for 26.41% of the genome, and 16,006 protein-coding genes were annotated. According to the phylogenetic analysis, S. miscanthi is closely related to Acyrthosiphon pisum, with S. miscanthi diverging from their common ancestor ~25.0-44.9 million years ago.We generated a high-quality draft of the S. miscanthi genome. This genome assembly should help promote research on the lifestyle and feeding specificity of aphids and their interactions with each other and species at other trophic levels. It can serve as a resource for accelerating genome-assisted improvements in insecticide-resistant management and environmentally safe aphid management. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

Genome sequence of the corn leaf aphid (Rhopalosiphum maidis Fitch).

The corn leaf aphid (Rhopalosiphum maidis Fitch) is the most economically damaging aphid pest on maize (Zea mays), one of the world’s most important grain crops. In addition to causing direct damage by removing photoassimilates, R. maidis transmits several destructive maize viruses, including maize yellow dwarf virus, barley yellow dwarf virus, sugarcane mosaic virus, and cucumber mosaic virus.The genome of a parthenogenetically reproducing R. maidis clone was assembled with a combination of Pacific Biosciences (207-fold coverage) and Illumina (83-fold coverage) sequencing. The 689 assembled contigs, which have an N50 size of 9.0 megabases (Mb) and a low level of heterozygosity, were clustered using Phase Genomics Hi-C interaction maps. Consistent with the commonly observed 2n = 8 karyotype of R. maidis, most of the contigs (473 spanning 321 Mb) were successfully oriented into 4 scaffolds. The genome assembly captured the full length of 95.8% of the core eukaryotic genes, indicating that it is highly complete. Repetitive sequences accounted for 21.2% of the assembly, and a total of 17,629 protein-coding genes were predicted with integrated evidence from ab initio and homology-based gene predictions and transcriptome sequences generated with both Pacific Biosciences and Illumina. An analysis of likely horizontally transferred genes identified 2 from bacteria, 7 from fungi, 2 from protozoa, and 9 from algae. Repeat elements, transposons, and genes encoding likely detoxification enzymes (cytochrome P450s, glutathione S-transferases, carboxylesterases, uridine diphosphate-glucosyltransferases, and ABC transporters) were identified in the genome sequence. Other than Buchnera aphidicola (642,929 base pairs, 602 genes), no endosymbiont bacteria were found in R. maidis.A high-quality R. maidis genome was assembled at the chromosome level. This genome sequence will enable further research related to ecological interactions, virus transmission, pesticide resistance, and other aspects of R. maidis biology. It also serves as a valuable resource for comparative investigation of other aphid species. © The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.


April 21, 2020  |  

Toxin and genome evolution in a Drosophila defensive symbiosis.

Defenses conferred by microbial symbionts play a vital role in the health and fitness of their animal hosts. An important outstanding question in the study of defensive symbiosis is what determines long term stability and effectiveness against diverse natural enemies. In this study, we combine genome and transcriptome sequencing, symbiont transfection and parasite protection experiments, and toxin activity assays to examine the evolution of the defensive symbiosis between Drosophila flies and their vertically transmitted Spiroplasma bacterial symbionts, focusing in particular on ribosome-inactivating proteins (RIPs), symbiont-encoded toxins that have been implicated in protection against both parasitic wasps and nematodes. Although many strains of Spiroplasma, including the male-killing symbiont (sMel) of Drosophila melanogaster, protect against parasitic wasps, only the strain (sNeo) that infects the mycophagous fly Drosophila neotestacea appears to protect against parasitic nematodes. We find that RIP repertoire is a major differentiating factor between strains that do and do not offer nematode protection, and that sMel RIPs do not show activity against nematode ribosomes in vivo. We also discovered a strain of Spiroplasma infecting a mycophagous phorid fly, Megaselia nigra. Although both the host and its Spiroplasma are distantly related to D. neotestacea and its symbiont, genome sequencing revealed that the M. nigra symbiont encodes abundant and diverse RIPs, including plasmid-encoded toxins that are closely related to the RIPs in sNeo. Our results suggest that distantly related Spiroplasma RIP toxins may perform specialized functions with regard to parasite specificity and suggest an important role for horizontal gene transfer in the emergence of novel defensive phenotypes.


April 21, 2020  |  

Diploid Genome Assembly of the Wine Grape Carménère.

In this genome report, we describe the sequencing and annotation of the genome of the wine grape Carménère (clone 02, VCR-702). Long considered extinct, this old French wine grape variety is now cultivated mostly in Chile where it was imported in the 1850s just before the European phylloxera epidemic. Genomic DNA was sequenced using Single Molecule Real Time technology and assembled with FALCON-Unzip, a diploid-aware assembly pipeline. To optimize the contiguity and completeness of the assembly, we tested about a thousand combinations of assembly parameters, sequencing coverage, error correction and repeat masking methods. The final scaffolds provide a complete and phased representation of the diploid genome of this wine grape. Comparison of the two haplotypes revealed numerous heterozygous variants, including loss-of-function ones, some of which in genes associated with polyphenol biosynthesis. Comparisons with other publicly available grape genomes and transcriptomes showed the impact of structural variation on gene content differences between Carménère and other wine grape cultivars. Among the putative cultivar-specific genes, we identified genes potentially involved in aroma production and stress responses. The genome assembly of Carménère expands the representation of the genomic variability in grapes and will enable studies that aim to understand its distinctive organoleptic and agronomical features and assess its still elusive extant genetic variability. A genome browser for Carménère, its annotation, and an associated blast tool are available at http://cantulab.github.io/data.Copyright © 2019 Minio et al.


April 21, 2020  |  

Meiotic sex in Chagas disease parasite Trypanosoma cruzi.

Genetic exchange enables parasites to rapidly transform disease phenotypes and exploit new host populations. Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasitic agent of Chagas disease and a public health concern throughout Latin America, has for decades been presumed to exchange genetic material rarely and without classic meiotic sex. We present compelling evidence from 45 genomes sequenced from southern Ecuador that T. cruzi in fact maintains truly sexual, panmictic groups that can occur alongside others that remain highly clonal after past hybridization events. These groups with divergent reproductive strategies appear genetically isolated despite possible co-occurrence in vectors and hosts. We propose biological explanations for the fine-scale disconnectivity we observe and discuss the epidemiological consequences of flexible reproductive modes. Our study reinvigorates the hunt for the site of genetic exchange in the T. cruzi life cycle, provides tools to define the genetic determinants of parasite virulence, and reforms longstanding theory on clonality in trypanosomatid parasites.


Talk with an expert

If you have a question, need to check the status of an order, or are interested in purchasing an instrument, we're here to help.